20 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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‘Internet of things’ centre to boost innovation capacity

The Africa Centre of Excellence in the Internet of Things is out to attract PhD candidates in what is a new concept in the field of computing which has the potential to boost Africa’s development through innovation.

Implemented by the College of Science and Technology at the University of Rwanda, with financial support from the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence II project and the Inter-University Council for East Africa, the centre seeks to capitalise on the positive correlation between ICT competitiveness and national competitiveness and facilitate the development of low cost, sustainable solutions to Africa’s challenges.

For example, remote monitoring and diagnosis technology could provide rural populations with access to quality healthcare, while wide-area networked sensors could be used for precision agriculture to improve yield and smart metering in African households, which could regulate power usage and increase energy efficiency.

The two areas of PhD study – applications for which close at the end of May – include PhDs in Wireless Sensor Networking and Embedded Computing Systems.

The centre aims to train a critical mass of African scientists and engineers in the field of Internet of Things, or IoT, through education and research from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. They are expected to develop and deploy innovative IoT-enabled services, to address development challenges across all Eastern and Southern African high priority domains.

Santhi Kumaran, associate professor in the Department of Computer Engineering at the College of Science and Technology at the University of Rwanda, said training will be provided through carefully designed curricula to promote cutting-edge interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research in the field of IoT.

“We aim to provide PhD studies (four years) and masters studies (two years), but we also plan to offer short courses and professional training and workshops, which are more of a kind of awareness creation, community outreach and career development opportunity related to IoT adoption, and would target a larger audience,” Kumaran told University World News.

Research supervision will be provided by faculty from the College of Science and Technology, as well as from other regional and international partners.

Kumaran said despite remarkable growth in GDPs in Eastern and Southern African low-income countries during the last decade, the region significantly lags behind developed economies in science, technology and innovation, or STI, capacity.

Therefore, without a quantum leap in STI capacity, this region’s development challenges cannot be addressed effectively, she said.

Kumaran said there was a need for a policy framework to harmonise the vision of partner states in the ICT sector in particular, in order to facilitate the implementation of common projects and strengthen the common (single) market.

“The final goal should be the deployment of ICT in all sectors of the economy and to all communities in the East African Community. Apart from the SMART Africa Manifesto, a number of other STI development initiatives like the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa, or STISA-2024, and the African Union Commission’s Agenda 2063, have already been undertaken.

“These agenda and policy frameworks would enable ACEIoT to be an African Centre of Excellence in ICT skills development,” Kumaran told University World News.
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